مجموعة المدينة المدنية للقاهرةCivic City Cairo Collective
Population (2017) • Metropolis 9,500,000 • Density 19,376/km2 (50,180/sq mi) • Urban 18,290,000• Metro 20,439,541
Civic City Cairo Collective
The methodology has been adapted to the existing possibilities. We have concentrated on the local and at the same time not the touristic but popular places in Cairo. We want to make other forms of the existing places visible. Our concept is based on four pillars under the umbrella name "comprising perceptions".
How to analyze a place when the framework conditions for the analysis are strongly restricted ?
Is the answer to the currently governing power automatically an antiattitude based on fear and mistrust ?
How do the inhabitants and users of these places deal with the situation ?
What models of usage arise within social and political complexity ?
How to describe places that are so strongly characterized by stereo-types and Western-societal memory ?
THE 5 CHOSEN PLACES OF CAIRO
Having come across this interesting technological tool we decided to introduce and adapt it to Phase 2 of the project. Human avatars go out on expeditions, on walks through a city and are lead by users on the Internet.The technological tool is the following: A performer wears a small live camera including a microphone on his forehead. This way the viewer on the Internet can see and hear the events from the point of view and personal perspective of the avatar. The avatar can receive messages and be directed by the community. So the audible and visible experience is in real time and interactive. Using a chat system, the conversations can be written by anyone. The game arrangement varies with each project. If there are a lot of users, they can vote the best control commands. So by different programming a whole swarm controls a single avatar in an democratic process, or one user controls his personal avatar.
Wherever you join, you can beam yourself to distant places and interesting situations.The Berlin based Chez Company production group arose from the bar-factory Chez Icke. The very successful beginning of the preoccupation with virtual space, the search for the digital-analog interface. Chez Company thus became an open formation of writers, directors, dramaturges, digital workers such as Can Elbasi, who is responsible for the digital concept, director Gesine Danckwart and Cao Kefei and the dramaturge Eva-Maria Bertschy who came from their respective disciplines and created new virtual spaces with the projects. More information: www.chez-company.org
Mostafa Kamel Square ( MAADI )
Located in Al-Maadi, one of Cairo’s old southern neighborhoods, with the Nile marking its west edge, As a neighborhood, Al-Maadi was initially developed as an exclusive residential suburb in the beginning of the 20th century, after the inauguration of a railway line that connected the city center to other southern districts of Cairo. The neighborhood which was privately established as a new urban development investment project by Jewish and British merchants, that would ambitiously house the English, and other foreign entities’ ambassadors, representatives, higher scale army officers, and their families. Since Al-Maadi is quite known among residents and expats of Cairo for its’ ‘foreign’ ambience, here how this European style was attained; the plan of this new town had to follow the British planning guidelines and regulatory rules if the British were to be the expected occupants of the new town. Building heights were limited to 15 meters, property fences were to be visually permeable, buildings were all to be equally aligned, and each plot had its signified built premises, with respect to having an open accessible yard from the main street. Greenery and landscape were prominent aspects in the plan, not just for aesthetic purposes, but to overcome dry climate in outdoor areas. Street trees were set to be positioned off-center to provide full shade to the street lane as well as the sidewalks.
Most of the roads and streets were named after the families who initially bought the land, and were stakeholders in establishing the neighborhood. Except for six diagonal avenues all of «old» Maadi’s perpendicular streets were numbered. One of those main diagonals is what now is named Mustafa Kamel street which is bisected in its middle by a square with the same name. Both the square and the street were initially named Menashe Avenue and Square after Count Jacques Bohor de Menashe a founding director of the Egyptian Delta Land & Investment Company (EDLICO) which created Maadi in 1906. Later renamed in honor of nationalist Mustafa kamel Pasha founder of the first nationalist party in Egypt calling for the independence of Egypt from British domination, and a constitutional government. This process of renaming streets and spaces came in attempt to liberate Al-Maadi from its foreign tag, which was never achieved.
As it was initially planned, the square was a centered node space defined by villas, and their yards with short fences, that shaped its premises. The circular form spreads out into six streets which all pass through it. As most of Al-Maadi’s squares, they were all planned to be connected together by main diagonal streets that cross the neighborhood’s blocks grid. With basic aesthetic purposes, the square could be described as a wide green roundabout for vehicles, and a very small scale green space which pedestrian can cross through. In the planning sense, the square is serving perfectly its assigned function. However, this is completely distant from its real definition of place. Seemingly, the square could be envisioned as a well planted space, that configures a unique green landscape, a rare case to be found in Cairo. But again, being part of Al-Maadi, justifies this speculation. The entire neighborhood tends to stand distant from other realities of Cairo, thanks to its historic establishment mentioned before.
This round of green hosts more than its planners have expected it to. Beyond passing and crossing, this place witnesses a wide variation of human activities and interactions between day and night. Starting from the very early hours following sunrise, the doormen and security guards of the surrounding villas meet for short chats before watering the grass. Meanwhile, multiple school and university buses pass around to pick up those who are waiting on the periphery of the space, spending few minutes waiting on daily basis, this square becomes the start and the end of everyday. With very few benches fixed in, spatial affordance of this places rises to accommodate dates and lovers’ short meetings. As the space is not visually permeable from afar, it fits the purpose for a short romantic getaway, that later becomes disturbed by children gathering to play and scream. Although this square might seem very monotonous figuratively, its social function as a ‘ghetto’ for whichever user it hosts, it even houses bigger meeting of Sudanese refugees and workers later in the day, that it became affiliated with the place’s identity. What definitely signifies Mustafa Kamel square is that in terms of spatial quality and place making, it represents all that lacks, and is deliriously missing in Cairo. The greenness, the quietness, the acceptance, and the flexibility of co-existence.
Interview — Narrative conversations with persons who, after observation, are directly connected with the place through their life or work.
A TALK WITH THE GARDNER OF MAADI’S MUSTAFA KAMEL SQUARE.
(Cairo 07 2017)
(…) Users of the square in the mornings consist of teenage school children and young couples who skip school and spend their time here. It is used as a romantic meeting point.
They make bad things like kissing and touching, you have to pay attention to it. Gladly the security man watches out in such situations. Nevertheless it still occurs.
These youngsters come from poorer corners of Maadi’s so called Tora Station, near the famous Tora prison where Ex-president Mubarak is locked up.
The Taxi drivers take breaks around this square as it is a quiet space that allows them to take a nap, or enjoy their take-away lunch.
Invisible Sudanese immigrants pass through the square every now and then - yet they never stay.
Two years ago, this square looked quite different, old broken and dirty, you could not look over to the other side.
The widower lives in the high-rise apartment building and has just moved back from the US. A very rich man who decided to convert this chaos into a beautiful garden - as a memorial for his beloved wife. Not getting any support from the neighbors, who abuse his financial status to invest in the maintenance of the whole residential area.
Before this, the place was used for drug trafficking and prostitution purposes.
Today it is better but still a place that is not always safe at certain times — starting 11 pm to 4 am — even the police can not do anything against the Marijuana smoking and the alcohol abuse of the politically-protected youth.
In the early mornings between 7:30 am and 8:30 am, it is a meeting point for an adult group consisting of professors and businessmen for the purposes of sport activities. Unfortunately even such educated people pollute the square by throwing a very large amount of cigarettes and cans on the ground—after I had just cleaned everything at 5:00 am.
There are people who pay attention to the hygiene of the place, mostly the foreigners who use the trash cans positioned at every corner of the unusually green square. They understand the meaning of value, effort and care, which are uncommon traits for the Egyptian population who is rather either uneducated, frustrated or rebellious.
Before, I was hired for gardening in Dokki, a more local district of Cairo. Over there the use of rare public gardens and squares close by the Nile is prohibited for the citizens of Cairo. Security and police men hired by the government to guard these places, send anyone away immediately, who wishes to spend some time with the family and children out in the open, in a public space. Generally there is a deep issue of mistrust amongst the people of Cairo and control between the state and the citizens.
There is no trust. People often abuse too much space and freedom at public places.
The good thing about this district - Maadi - is that it is allowed to plan and use such places.
Unfortunately, this also entails dangers.
Illustration — A Subjective Experience, an analytic analysis of an observer with the places. The illustrations are evoked at home by the memory and abstractly rendered in form of a black and white fineliner illustrations, where special events are being highlighted.
Audio—A general sound recording is performed. Also 3 times a day at 9 o'clock, 14 o'clock and 19 o'clock. Subsequently, the entire spectrum is reduced to one tone.
morning 122 Hz
noon: 367 Hz
night: 3112 Hz
Color — A general color measurement is performed, which results from the recording of subjective time recordings. 3 times a day at 9 o'clock, 14 o'clock and 19 o'clock.
El-Sayeda Zeinab Metro Station
6th of October City “The Syrian Square”
Installation prototype. The idea was to build four narrow linen walls. One side for the interview projection, where the narrative interview is being read out. One side for the colors that were taken around 3 times/day to reflect the atmosphere of the light. One side for the visualized sound recordings also having been recorded at 3 different times/day to transfer the sound experience of the place and last but not least the wall for the subjective illustration highlighting some of the main activities taking place also at 3 different times/day.
These 4 tall linen walls were meant to form a narrow rectangle simulating the feeling of suffocation and claustrophobia. A small opening for receivers to go inside and experience the overwhelming compressed perception overdose that you often receive in a hybrid and at first glance seemingly chaotic city such as Cairo.